Lost on the way to the End of the World

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by El Explorador, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Christmas is coming, and with it my first family reunion in Guatemala in years!

    Conveniently enough, I have commissioned a laptop delivery. Updates to resume, I'm excited to get back into writing again. My little agenda is absolutely stuffed with detail, the adventure just keeps getting better and weirder.

    Coming soon: New Orleans and Riding Through Hurricanes (I'll save the disappointment now and state that I just like exciting titles and didn't actually ride through Isaac), A Trespasser's Guide to Not Getting Shot in Texas, Riding To The Top Of The World, Utah and Other Planets, and the Rebirth of Frankenbike!

    Not to mention Mexico...

    I'm in Belize now, I'll have to search the forums but I feel I must have met a few people from the boards on my ride, hopefully I can catch up!

    Cheers from an oasis of comfort in Belize, the report soon to be back rebuilt better than ever!
    Or at least updating more or less regularly...


    Construction Almost Finished, Thank You For Your Patience While We Build a More Radical Internet
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    #41
  2. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    New Orleans; it might as well be Mos Eisley for the reactions I've gotten from people when I tell them my explorations take me there. A local girl I contact makes reference to a surplus of axe murderers. The local tongue-in-cheek rag runs a piece on Sudden Bullet Death Syndrome.

    Still, reputations have a tendency to collect momentum and outgrow their origins, and I had to find out for myself. This is what I repeat to myself as I park my motorcycle at the Walgreens in the East end of town, ready for a first pass at the infamous abandoned 6 Flags / Jazzland park.

    Getting in proves to be easier than I had imagined, despite me having to casually walk onto the highway by a cop writing a ticket at the turnpike and almost having to tread through a swampy moat before finding a proper path farther along the perimeter.

    My heart is pounding with excitement and I sprint despite the sweltering heat. The gravel tracks are overgrown, it doesn't seem like anyone has been down them in a while. Nonetheless I take a minute to slow the pounding in my ears, stay sharp as I begin to wander through.

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    I spy some fellow delinquents atop a small coaster and sneak up on them to assess their group. Satisfied from afar that they're just bored teens, I sneak up on them and yell out "WHAT ARE YOU KIDS DOING HERE!?" in my best Official Cop Voice. I almost really regret it when a head pops out from the top of the coaster and some kid nearly loses his balance but their stunned silence gives way to chuckles when they realize it's just me. I ask them about the place, apparently they have been around a couple of times before but never run into anyone. As I suspected, it's pretty out of the way.

    Before I depart they point out a set of four 180 foot high white towers in the distance, uncaged ladders extending to the top. They tell me no-one has ever been all the way up, and the graffiti ending around the 30 foot mark seems to corroborate. I have my goal for sunset.

    Heading out to explore on my own, the first thing I do is head back to explore the Batman themed set they pointed out to me. Graffiti on the buildings, crumbling structures, empty spaces where rides have been reclaimed for material, and everything - everything - is climbable. There is just too much to shoot, climb, explore, and I revel in the overwhelming stimulation.

    I especially liked this one when I noticed the Heller quote on review:
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    As the sun approaches the horizon I can't contain myself any longer and head for the white towers. The pathways are choked with overgrowth, wild vines with thorns that catch and tear. It's only skin. I pick the tower that feels the least exposed, but the truth is from the highway I can be seen from any of these towers unless I wait for dark.

    One thing I've learned from my explorations is people just aren't paying attention, and those who are generally find themselves too busy to care. At least this is how I explain how I get away with shenanigans like this. Perhaps I'm just lucky; my recklessness will soon catch up to me.
    In any case, the shadows are long, I start to climb.

    I'm marking my progress watching the parallel set of towers across the fen, so as to not waste energy holding on and leaning out to get perspective. Energy is very important when it's the only thing keeping you from impromptu flying lessons. Around the halfway point I'm getting tired so I try to rest on the rungs by locking my legs in - no dice; I waste more energy just trying to keep myself balanced. The towers across are linked by a catwalk a few feet from the summit - I'll just keep going to the catwalk.

    Hand over hand; a trancelike state as the rungs continue endlessly; repeated movements becoming automatic.

    The trance is broken by a wave of vertigo. This is weird, very weird - I don't get vertigo. I'm commited; three quarters the way up. Not the place to develop sensitivity to heights.

    The wind blows, and the vertigo comes again.

    Looking down, it hits me. I haven't developed vertigo, the tower I'm clinging to at bone-shattering height is actually swaying. I'm relieved that my senses were correct, and wonder what this would feel like in the famous storm winds that ravage this part of the world. Shouldn't be long now, I'm almost parallel with the catwalk on the opposite towers.

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    In all fairness to me, I am just overloaded. The visual stimulation of this place's slow decomposition and reclamation by nature overwhelm the senses, and I'm flooded with adrenaline from a day hanging off the exposed skeleton of the various rotting structures.

    All this to say, I might be forgiven for only having truly registered that the towers I was climbing were not identical to the ones I was marking my progress with across the overgrowth.

    Still, I wasn't in a very self forgiving mood when, muscles tired and excited for a rest, I decide I'm close enough to the top that I'll be able to roughly gauge how far away the catwalk is by wasting some of my remaining muscle power on leaning out and looking up.

    Oh, look at that.

    There is no catwalk.

    I look at the top, the challenge, probably twenty meters up.

    My muscles burn.

    The wind blows and my camera oh-so-gently nudges one of the rungs, releasing the lens cap to fall, fall, fall to the ground below. I don't even hear the sound it makes as it hits.

    Screw it.
    Time to climb back down. I'll be back, next time properly fed and hydrated.
    As I reach the last 30 meters I almost slip on a rung I forgot was missing, and as I adjust my grip I hear the roaring of engines. They grow louder and louder, and shortly a pair of ATVs rip through the track around me. I try to grab a hurried shot, but I know the pole is swaying, it's dark, and the shots are blurry. I've been hanging on for fifteen minutes catching shots of the sunset and waiting for the riders to pass again when I remember I'm supposed to be tired and getting down to ground level.

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    Transported back absently as I savour the giddiness of mischief well managed, I find Lost waiting for me in the Walgreen's parking lot and ride in a fugue down the I-10 back home.
    And as I crest the overpass the jewels of the city at night spread out before me. I reflect on the day, and decide I am not leaving tomorrow. Police lights flashing in the rear view, I smile and pin the throttle.

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    #42
  3. cyberdos

    cyberdos Easy Bonus Loop

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2005
    Oddometer:
    32,200
    Location:
    Queen Creek, AZ
    :yikes

    :lol3

    :lurk
    #43
  4. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,369
    Location:
    Belleville, IL
    Holy shit, has anyone told you that you are absolutely F'ing insane?!?!? I LOVE it! You are experiencing the kind of raw, adrenaline-induced adventure that I will (willingly) go to my grave having never experienced! I wish I had half of the balls and twice the brains that you do! :rofl

    One question, it seems that you reference a lot of photos that I don't see in the ride report - such as the photos of the scary old place off the highway with the voice that never showed itself.

    Is there somewhere else that you are storing these photos that I could explore? I don't want to miss a thing - this is AMAZING! :clap
    #44
  5. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Hahaha actually several people, for a while there I was keeping track of how often people told me I was crazy.
    I take it as a good sign to be poorly adjusted to a broken society, so thanks! :D

    I had my encounter with the law in Louisiana I lost a bunch of photos, and unfortunately the creepy disembodied voice's house was one of them.

    I do however upload all my shots in bulk to my google plus account, thought it is completely disorganized and I think there are some doubles. I just use it to have links since I can't upload here.
    https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/115417864038557557353/albums/5782874620418854961

    The quality shots go to my flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elexplorador/

    #45
  6. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,369
    Location:
    Belleville, IL
    Beautiful, thanks so much! What a great adventure, thanks for bringing us along!

    I only asked if anyone has told you that you're crazy because in reading through the ride report, I didn't see anyone else react to some of the activities in the photos! :D I think if you quickly scanned through the report, you could miss the fact that you are in some very precarious places in some of them. For instance, in the first photo, I just figured you were out on a balcony. And it wasn't until the second time I went through the report that I saw you up on the wires in this photo:

    <img class="alignnone" title="Skywalking" src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7268/7726523824_3940359063_c.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="534" />

    Very cool. I showed my wife and she nearly wet herself. Then this morning she sent me this link and asked if it was my buddy from Advrider:

    http://weather.aol.com/2013/01/08/m...=maing-grid7|main5|dl22|sec1_lnk2&pLid=254532

    I told her that coaster doesn't even begin to compare with the things that you climb. Hell, I'D climb the one in the article, and I'm a total panzy! :rofl

    When and if you pass through the St. Louis area, shoot me a PM. I'll buy you beers in exchange for some stories! :thumb
    #46
  7. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,113
    Location:
    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    Damn dude are you part monkey or something? :eek1 This is GREAT! Love that you came thru the "Ville" and climbed all over the dormant coasters! Your writing is fantastic and I will be watching! Enjoy the ride
    #47
  8. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,113
    Location:
    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    Oh yeah, forgot to mention that the photos are amazing! Ride on...
    #48
  9. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Thanks guys, much appreciated!

    And I'll definitely remember the offer if I end up deciding to come back backdrifter.:freaky There's still a ton of cool stuff to see in the States, and there the guards don't use shotguns!
    #49
  10. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    The sepia almost-light of cloudy dawn pulls me down from my dreams, but not to the ground.
    Carefully, I exit my shelter, remembering my lullaby &#8211; Don&#8217;t get out of your hammock and die, don&#8217;t get out of your hammock and die...

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yesterday began with a delicious coffee and conversations with perfect strangers on sex and religion, attended by Jason the barista whose name I still remember because you really can&#8217;t pay people to be that friendly &#8211; they just have to be raised that way. Definitely a New Orleans thing.

    Enchanted by the city&#8217;s oddball offerings, I roamed down Royal street, letting the window displays draw me into worlds of ancient treasures and immaculately maintained priceless miscellanea. Maybe immaculately maintained is a bit of an overstatement &#8211; I saw the owner&#8217;s son ignoring his (desperate) caretakers to clamber on a gorgeously crafted pool table and shoot the balls around. The price tag was a mere $137,000.00.
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    This kid isn&#8217;t going to be worrying about paying for college.

    My meanderings through art galleries that ranged from Dali and Dr. Seuss to street art and performers were spiced figuratively by a nun in full habit being led away in handcuffs, and literally as well by ghost pepper sauce. I don&#8217;t know what the deal was with the nun, but the ghost pepper sauce was my punishment for insinuating to the owner of the Pepper Palace that after trying all his sauces, tasty as they may be, they were rather on the mild side. A crafty smile (from him) and some tears (from me) later, I vowed never to underestimate Western spiciness again.

    Nursing my pride and scalded tongue on a lemongrass and coconut popsicle, I wandered around and absorbed the city&#8217;s atmosphere.

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    The streetnames read like poetry &#8211; Esplanade, Decatur, Dumaine, Dauphin, Canal, Calliope... Okay, well maybe not Tchoupitoulas (ten points if you can pronounce it right). I found myself at a camera store and met Oswaldo Escudero, whose enthusiasm for my journey and photography seemed to overwhelm even my own. I deferred an invitation to dinner; he loaned me his phone to arrange my rendezvous with the lady who taught me how to identify a genuine Jivaro shrunken head. After the sort of conversation you can only have with other explorers we touristed around, she daintily perched atop the luggage strapped to my motorcycle, illuminating the interesting tidbits you&#8217;d expect an anthropologist to know about a city. Eris is the ancient roman god of Chaos.
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    I learned to ask to hear &#8220;St. James Infirmary Blues&#8221; if I want to look like I know what I&#8217;m doing at a jazz club, explored the empty but not lonely edges of the bayou, and then with the rich songs of the city echoing in my ears I made my way back to Jazzland in the dark for the coup-de-grace.

    Headlight unplugged for stealthiness, I failed to notice a log hidden in the grass on my way in and had a lovely time wrestling Lost up and over in the slippery dark. My efforts were rewarded, however, as the swampland&#8217;s nocturnal symphony scored our trespass into a remote corner of the park where Lost would rest the night. As for myself, I&#8217;d spied on my previous visit a nice little platform near the summit of the rollercoaster. An ideal spot for a kip, and an excellent place from which to survey my kingdom by moonlight.

    Of course, once again, things were different at the top.
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    Without descending for more rope, my hammock only fit swaying over what I estimated to be a good hundred foot drop. Well, double and triple check those knots, and off to sleep reminding myself not to absently wake and roll out into thin air.

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    Traffic is light at this bleary hour; I watch the early risers on their morning commute as the wind whistles through the latticework and wooden slats. The highway is far away enough I won&#8217;t be easily noticed, but close enough for me to watch the trickle of commuters with steady jobs and stable plans and wonder.

    Time to pack up and get back to ground level. I&#8217;ve enjoyed my time here immensely; need to pick a better spot. The time to leave has not yet come.

    Wandering through the ruins of Jazzland as the rising sun cuts deep shadows and saturates my surroundings, I am spellbound by the mystery and quiet. Artists call this the magic hour for good reason; I spend it treading between broken glass and through overgrown archways.

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    Eventually I choose new throne from which to rule my adopted domain.

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    The Ferris wheel provides me the same advantage over any other wannabe kings-of-the-castle the roller coaster did: Inaccessible to all but the most intrepid climbers, it doesn&#8217;t offer a route for a stealthy invasion, while providing me with plenty of cover. As an added bonus, it has a handy niche I can stash my backpack and gear in (locked up in the pacsafe just in case, of course). Also, getting there is fun as hell every time.

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    After a breakfast of boiled rice and veggies spiced with chile de coban and vegetable spice mix, I become acutely aware that it is time to take a shower.
    Let&#8217;s see what the city can provide for me.

    In town I make my way to a Marriott, in full pants and button up shirt to camouflage my scruffiness. There is a Temple convention in town, and the sea of pajama-like uniforms and fez hats makes me feel like I&#8217;m infiltrating a (very friendly) cult as I wander through the hotel and eventually find the saltwater pool.

    After a few minutes of talking to no-one on a phone that isn&#8217;t on, someone comes by and I follow them in through the keycard-access door. I change into my bathing suit, grab a towel and go for a refreshing dip. Surreptitious application of soap stashed in my boardies has me feeling like I can properly integrate into society again in no time, and a quick shave in the bathroom later I&#8217;m back on the streets munching on a complimentary granny smith from the gym.

    I head to a building with a sort of pillared cupola I spied from the rooftop pool; it appears to contain a bank of sorts. Well don&#8217;t I feel lucky to see that not only is the building under construction, but they have left the door wide open and there isn&#8217;t a person to be seen around.

    I nod and respond aiite and que tal as I wander up past the workers. I&#8217;m well dressed and have a big camera; clearly I have some sort of official business that brings me here. At least that&#8217;s the story I&#8217;m trying to exude as I confidently (but not really) make my way upward, switching from one side of the building to the other as the staircases end or are blocked. It&#8217;s a good thing my shirt is black because I am soaked, this staircase is an oven. I make it to the top undisturbed, where a curved ladder leads to the very peak of the cupola. From my perch among the city&#8217;s peaks, I watch a parade march through the streets with supreme satisfaction at my life in general.

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    Somehow I get lost on the way down and end up uncomfortably close to the actual bank, but manage to squeeze out in the middle of the construction site and casually hop the fence back over to the street to mosey on over to the next interesting building. The alarm system defeats me this time, but I&#8217;m still tickled by how as I just stand there thinking of how to finagle my way in, a fellow who&#8217;d been standing in the street swipes his card and ushers me in.

    I grab some drinks with Eris, my friend from the previous night, and promise to take her for a photo shoot in Jazzland if she lets me record some of her singing. Eventually it&#8217;s time for all good couchsurfers to go to the park, and I clamber to my perch overflowing with contentment, savouring the fresh memories of the day&#8217;s adventures.

    Just as it has been every day since I began this voyage, today was the best day of my life.

    And tomorrow is going to be even better.

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    #50
  11. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,113
    Location:
    Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
    Damn dude you really should write a book!
    #51
  12. WhorehayTheBarbarian

    WhorehayTheBarbarian Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    San Diego CA
    Absolutelly fantastic pictures and report.

    I hope the loss of your gadgets doesnt set back your trip too far. A real adventure you are on and we are looking foreward to more updates.
    #52
  13. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,505
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    nice pic's .. very different
    #53
  14. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Thanks dudes!

    No worries Barbarian, losing my tech only slowed down the writing and the photography. In the end, I just work on that for posterity. The adventure continues strong - I made it all the way to Guatemala so far! Yeah, I know, Guatemala in 5 months isn't exactly great progress but I'm going for quality not quantity.
    #54
  15. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,369
    Location:
    Belleville, IL
    Just amazing. I'm in for the long haul on this one. Speaking of... If you're all the way in Guatemala now, then you owe us quite a few updates since your report still shows you in New Orleans! :evil

    I remember reading on the first page that you chose a hammock over a tent, but it hadn't donned on me why that was until your last update. Is that your standard operating procedure - try to find a safe high spot to call home for the night?

    Keep it up, I'm starting to feel addicted!
    #55
  16. WhorehayTheBarbarian

    WhorehayTheBarbarian Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    San Diego CA
    5 months sounds just about right if you ask me... Why be in a hurry? You may miss something or someone...
    #56
  17. RhinoVonHawkrider

    RhinoVonHawkrider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,683
    Location:
    Eastern Pa
    This is Fcuking epic. :clap:freaky

    And yes U need to post more, would once a week kill ya, I'm all :ear

    Feliz 2013 - Stay Safe
    #57
  18. MiguelVR

    MiguelVR Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Lisbon, PT
    Brilliant! Your report is magnificent as well as your climbing abilties.
    Thanks for the link to your flickr account. Excellent pics, but without your writing they are incomplete.
    Ride and climb safe.
    #58
  19. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    I don't read too many reports while on the road, bu I can make an exception :D

    Get into some hostels an start writing using their gear! :type

    :*sip*
    #59
  20. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    You're too kind!

    At grannies in Guatemala City at the moment so I've had plenty of time to write. Just a lil photo editing to do and I should have posts banked for a while. The adventure has been gnarly.
    #60